Easter doesn’t resurrect fortunes of the market
Although we might still be suffering from the Easter sugar-rush the Meat, Fish and Poultry (MFP) market did not experience the expected uplift with volumes fairly flat in all markets, except chilled fish. Although grocery as a whole was bolstered by a record-breaking £2.5 billion spent during the Easter week, we’ve not seen the same strong performance in our markets. Shoppers may have indulged, but it wasn’t on the traditional roast with volumes down over the Easter week. It might be expected that the great weather over Easter would have resulted in more BBQs, but value and volumes were down in the processed markets where we often see an uplift.
We know that the MFP market relies on events like Easter to drive volume, so this will have a big effect on our growth for the rest of the year. Nathan Ward, Business Unit Director, MFP, explains: “Easter and Mother’s Day are vital to volumes in roasts and in our last update we were forecasting stronger performance for the roasting categories year-on-year. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with roasting value down -2.5% and volumes down -5.4% in the last week of Easter compared to the comparable week last year. This is a huge hit for the category with beef and lamb affected most. When we look on a 12-week basis, we can see that beef and lamb are suffering strong volume losses year on year. Lamb was present in 1.24 million fewer baskets and saw a loss of 622,000 shoppers, with leg and shoulder roasts contributing a similar level of decline. It isn’t all bad news though, with just over a third of shoppers still buying lamb over the period and spending on average £16.45 each. The decline of beef is a more worrying prospect as it is over three times bigger. Beef has been in 1.96 million fewer baskets this year, almost all of this (1.9 million) due to roasting alone. Older and less affluent shoppers drove the decline, with older dependents, empty nesters, and retired shoppers the key demographics losing trips. Pork has bucked the trend adding 630,000 trips and 158,000 shoppers, with pork shoulder performing strongly with volume up 33% compared to last year.
Ward continues: “Poultry has performed well over the period, with turkey seeing a strong Easter performance. Turkey added 690,000 trips compared to last year and has done well as a centrepiece for a large meal with crowns (+190%) and rolls (+15%) driving the volume growth for the protein. Chicken reigns supreme in the category, dominating volumes and remaining key to growth. As in previous updates, it isn’t the roasting element which is driving growth, with the everyday versatile cuts still the engines of volume growth with breast (+5.6%) and legs (+8.8%) the most popular cuts. This has all helped chicken to achieve 1.92 million more trips and add 315,000 more shoppers.
Ward, continues: “Chilled fish remains the star performer with value and volume growth ahead of grocery. We’ve seen 4 million more trips containing chilled fish, with 295,000 more shoppers entering the category. Natural continues to enjoy a strong resurgence with volume up 9%, as we see 3.7 million more baskets with salmon, cod and sea bass contributing the most to volume growth. Smoked and shellfish continue to grow, with prawns and salmon key contributors. Added value continues to struggle with 1 million fewer trips driven by the more affluent shoppers in the market.”
Easter didn’t have the effect we hoped on the category, but will the weather drive us indoors to eat big meals or will it encourage more al fresco dining and eating out? All will be revealed as we move from spring towards summer in our next update in four weeks’ time.